How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar State Buying Guide for Nevada
Many U.S. states, including Nevada, have embraced solar power for electricity production. Solar power provides a clean and cheaper alternative to traditional fossil fuel electricity produced by big utility companies. Many local and state authorities including the federal government have enacted money-saving programs designed to promote solar energy production in Nevada. In addition, property owners switching to solar power reduce or eliminate their dependency on the ever-rising costs of electricity produced by utility companies. The following Solar buying guide will introduce you to solar energy installation and answer some common questions along the way.
The list below is a quick reference guide to information within the article.
- Introduction to Solar
- Solar Permits in Nevada
- Hiring a Solar Contractor in Nevada
- Climate Considerations in Nevada
- Benefits of Solar Power
- Types of Solar Panel Systems
- Using Solar Power to Heat Water
- Reducing Solar Installation Costs
- Return on Investment
Introduction to Solar Power for Nevada Residents
Solar power is a sustainable energy source capable of meeting our country’s massive energy needs through the power of the sun far into the future. At present, solar energy is used to produce clean, cheap electricity or used to heat water for domestic use. Solar panels are comprised of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert solar rays into electricity. As the particles of light free electrons from atoms, the result is electricity. Solar panels are durable, require minimal maintenance, and have an estimated lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
A solar array system is often installed on the roof. The roof should be in good repair and capable of supporting the weight of the solar panel system. Panels should be place in areas on the roof that receive full sunshine throughout the day. Areas that receive shade should be avoided, as it will reduce the panel’s ability to produce electricity. Optimum panel configurations are facing due south at 30 to 45-degree angles. Ground-mounted solar array systems are also available when land space is not a concern or your roof is not suitable for solar panel installation.
Solar Permitting Process in Nevada
A solar panel installation in the state of Nevada requires a building permit. Permits are issued on the city level with most allowing either the homeowner or licensed contractor eligible to apply for the permit. Before a permit is issued and work begins on the project, many municipalities require an inspection to determine the structural integrity of the roof. This is to ascertain if the roof’s supporting structure is capable of supporting the additional weight of the solar arrays or panels. Most cities require a licensed roofing contractor or engineer to make the structural inspection. Contact your local building department for additional information.
Inspections are required before, during and after most solar panel installations in Nevada. Inspections are not an inconvenience as they ensure your system was installed safely and wired correctly according to city and state code. A permit also ensures the contractor doing the work is licensed and/or state certified as only these individuals can call for an inspection. Do not bypass the permit process or hire someone who does not carry a current state license that allows him to do the type of work necessary for solar installation. Because electrical wiring is involved in a solar panel installation, you should verify that your solar contractor is also a licensed electrical contractor.
Hiring a Certified Solar Contractor in Nevada
While you can certainly purchase solar panels from the internet and attempt to install them yourself, chances are, like most property owners, you lack the necessary skills to size, design and install a solar panel system on your home or business. As such, your project will require the services of a licensed, insured and experienced Nevada solar contractor. An experience solar contractor will size, design and recommend an efficient system with maximized energy production suited for the parameters specific to your property.
Before selecting a solar contractor, you should receive at least three written estimates from reputable solar companies in your area. In addition, you should also ask for copies of their state license and insurance coverage to verify their legitimacy. You can verify contractor license status through the Nevada State Contractors Board or by clicking here. In addition, follow up with insurance verification by contacting the applicable insurance company and check with the BBB “Better Business Bureau” for customer complaints and/or recent legal actions.
Nevada’s Climate is Ideal for Solar Power Production
Approximately 300 days of sunshine per year makes Nevada an ideal candidate for solar power production. Temperatures can top 100-degrees in summer and average a low of 34-degrees during winter putting a strain on your HVAC system and energy expenses. Installing a solar panel system on your home or business will utilize this abundance of sunshine year round to produce cheaper electricity and reduce your monthly electricity costs.
Benefits of Solar Power in Nevada
- Reduced monthly utility bills for the lifetime of the solar product
- A return on your investment of 10 to 15-percent per year
- Clean energy reduces dependence on foreign oil
- Reduces your carbon footprint
- Reduces greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming
- A solid marketing tool should you decide to sell your property
- An immediate increase to your property’s value
Types of Solar Panel Systems Used in Nevada
Your solar power options should be based on your energy requirements, climate, and specific parameters of your property such as roof design and its structural integrity. Your solar contractor will recommend a system suited for your property that provides optimum energy production. Solar panel systems are available to property owners in three types: Grid-Tie, Grid-Tie with battery back up, and Off-Grid.
With the Grid-Tie system, the photovoltaic cells work all day absorbing solar rays and converting them into electricity. This can result in an excess of energy. With the Grid-Tie system, this energy is fed back into the main grid of the utility company and known as net metering. This results in a credit to your utility bill each month the system generates energy your property does not use and why the Grid-Tie is not only energy efficient, it is also a way of lowering your bill and saving money. The monthly savings multiplied by the life of the system more than covers the initial cost of the equipment and installation. When your solar panels are inactive during nighttime hours or when inclement weather reduces their production, your property’s energy needs are met with power from the main grid.
When your property is connected with a Grid Tie and Battery Backup system, your property is covered should a power outage occur. The solar panels generate power for immediate use, to charge back up batteries or contribute to the power grid. If the grid fails, the solar panel system disengages from the grid and taps into the backup batteries through a designated battery power panel, to maintain power to critical areas of the property such as the stove and refrigerator.
The Off-Grid system is completely independent from the main grid. The solar panel system generates all of the power to your property with excess stored in a battery backup system. When needed, the backup system supplies power to the property. Off-Grid systems are ideal for homes in remote areas with inaccessible terrain when grid connection is not cost effective.
Using Solar Power to Heat Water in Nevada
Solar water heaters are designed to produce domestic hot water for residential applications. There are two types of solar water heating systems: the active system equipped with controls and pumps for circulation and the passive system, which does not require pumps and controls.
Active systems are available as a direct circulation system that circulates water through its roof-mounted collectors for heating and then to a storage tank for later use. This model works well in climates that do not experience frequent freezes.
Indirect circulation systems use a heat-transfer fluid that resists freezing that is pumped through the collectors and heat exchanger, which then heats water for the home. This system type is used in climates subjected to freezing temperatures.
Reducing the Costs of Solar Power Installation in Nevada
Many programs around the United States and available to Nevada residents are designed to promote solar energy and lower the costs of purchase and installation. Most notably is the federal government’s 30-percent tax credit. The credit, extended through 2019, is a dollar for dollar tax credit, not a deduction, which amounts to a huge savings on the cost of a solar panel system. Click here to view IRS form 5695, which covers residential energy credits.
Most home improvements that add value to your property will also increase your property taxes. The state of Nevada has enacted a solar property tax abatement. This means that even though you can expect your property value to increase after a solar panel installation, your property taxes will not rise.
You can also search for additional rebate and incentive programs in Nevada by visiting the DSIRE “Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency” website. Simply enter your zip code in the search box and view the results.
Return of Solar Investment in Nevada
Solar power is a great investment with annual returns averaging 10 to 15-percent. However, while a high-efficiency solar panel system will offset the monthly costs of electricity immediately, it could take several years for the solar panels’ payback to even out. Once evened out, your solar panel system will have paid for itself. This means that all future electricity is basically free. Happy times, indeed.